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September 21, 2010Where are the women of Wall Street? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 141,000 women—roughly 2.6% of female workers in finance—left the U.S. financial industry during the past decade. The drop suggests that women bore the brunt of the layoffs in the recent recession—a finding that dovetails with our discovery that women were three times more likely than men to lose their jobs during the recent recession. For more on this trend, plus the latest news on women and work, read on.

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Fruit of Life

Educate a woman…and save a life. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation estimates that increased education of women in 2009 prevented the deaths of 4 million children. How? Educated women are more likely to take their children to the doctor, seek preventative care, and create hygienic conditions in their homes.

READ: “Educating Women Saves Kids' Lives,” by Tracy Clark-Flory, Salon, 9/17/10

Women on Wall Street

Brokerage firms, asset-management companies, and investment banks are losing women, especially young women, in droves. The number of women aged 20 to 35 working in the finance sector dropped 16.5% this past decade, while the number of men in that age group grew by 7.3%. Is sexism to blame? While industry-wide rates of sexual-discrimination charges dropped from 2000 to 2009, Meghan Muntean, formerly of Lehman Brothers, observed that “very subtle” sexist slights by male colleagues manifested in reduced bonuses for her female colleagues. READ: “Ranks of Women on Wall Street Thin,” by Kyle Stock, The Wall Street Journal, 9/20/10

Head of the Class

For the first time, more women earned Ph.D. degrees this year than men. During the 2008/2009 academic year, 28,962 Ph.D.s went to women compared to 28,469 to men. While a milestone, I’ll hold off celebrating until we close the pay gap in academia. Men still earn more than women at every level of academic rank.

READ: “Report: More women than men in U.S. earned doctorates last year for first time,” by Daniel de Vise, The Washington Post, 9/14/10

Heading UN Women

Michelle Bachelet, the first woman elected president of Chile, will head UN Women—the new UN office tasked with advancing gender equality worldwide. “We have to make sure that women’s issues are an essential element on the agendas of all heads of state, all governments,” said Bachelet following the announcement.

READ: “Former Chilean President to Lead New U.N. Agency,” by Neil MacFarquhar, The New York Times, 9/14/10

Sexism Found

The New Agenda, a women’s advocacy group, seeks to boost women leadership and expose the sexism and misogyny that pervades popular culture. In this video, New Agenda President Amy Siskind discovers that more than half of the people she spoke with in Hudson, NY, could not define sexism—and 1 in 3 thought some women deserve sexist treatment.

WATCH: “Searching for Sexism: Episode 1,” The New Agenda, 9/15/10